Capacity to responding to emergency situations has been a gap identified by Western and Choiseul emergency response teams.
Emergency and Disaster Management operations in the provinces should by now handled by the sector committees established under the Provincial Disaster Operations Committee (P-DOC) arrangements. However, that has not been the case since the provincial sector committees and ward or villages committees lack the capacity and some areas of expertise to handle such situation.
This issue was highlighted during an initial Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) training facilitated by National Emergency Response Team (NERT) for Western and Choiseul Province sector committees last week.
Outlined in the National Disaster Management Plan 2018 arrangement, the provincial, ward and village committees should be the first line to prepare, response and recovery whenever an emergency or disaster strikes.
It is obvious in today’s response to COVID-19 as a gap that the National Disaster Council (NDC) through the N-DOC is addressing seeing that provincial sector committees under the Provincial Disaster Operations Committee (P-DOC) and self-appointed rural committees still rely heavily on the National Disaster Management Office in Honiara.
The discussions highlighted that our Western and Northern Solomon’s geographical make-up is a challenge to swift response plans by the whole of provincial government and stakeholders approach.
Case scenarios give insight into the porous border whereby traditional crossing trade is conducted on daily basis. Handling those who breach the travel restrictions under COVID-19 orders by the PM is a social and economic challenge which national government need to address as soon possible. Logistics, surveillance and infrastructure is a clear-cut example.
Gaps and scenes discussed entails a need for the provincial sector committees to be upskilled and equipped with coordination support capacity enabling them to respond to small or large-scale emergency situations on COVID-19.
Chief of the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC), George Baragamu, confirmed that the shared sentiments are the reality experienced in both provinces, noting also that nationally deployed teams at times does not recognise the existing capacity at the provincial level even to the extent not even recognising that each provinces has its own coordination mechanisms specific to operating in its jurisdictions.
“Recognising the huge level of commitment and efforts by the two provinces in preparing for potential COVID-19 response with limited resources and the challenges on capacity, the N-DOC through the NERT is prioritising building the capacity of provincial-based responders,” he explained adding that the training conducted in for both provinces’ demonstrate the initial training support.
Mr Baragamu said National Disaster Operations Committee (N-DOC) through the NERT will capacitate the provinces as ongoing government preparedness and response on COVID-19.
“Specific trainings on identified areas will soon be implemented for provincial emergency responders.”
Participants at the training session includes provincial sector members of Health, Protection, Camp Management, Livelihood, Police, Education, Red Cross and Provincial staffs.